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OVERPOWERED by George on the Outer

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If there was ever a prime example of a team of players not ready for the new football season it was Melbourne in the opening round of 2019.  

Throughout the field there was just too much evidence of players who haven’t had sufficient pre-season or players who ordinarily wouldn’t have even graced the field at this early stage.  

The Demons also got a lesson on selection with Port Adelaide showing that two ruckmen on the field is an essential for this season.  It was a lesson that should have been obvious to the Melbourne coaching panel were they to have reviewed the Preliminary Final disaster, not to work out what went wrong, but rather what West Coast did right.  Then in the Grand Final a week later, two ruckmen overpowered a solitary Heath Grundy.  

With Scott Lycett and Patrick Ryder playing on the ground and tag-teaming Max Gawn it was not surprising that they simply overpowered him and the Melbourne side.  The critical factor was not the ruck contests, but rather what they did when not rucking.  Resting Ryder or Lycett in the forward line instead of the bench meant the Demons had to commit Sam Frost or Oscar McDonald to them.  That left Westhoff free to take uncontested mark after mark. Five goals for the game resulted.  That was the score difference at the final bell!

And if further proof is needed for the two talls, check out what Hawthorn are doing with Ceglar and McEvoy on the ground, and they had only one week less break than us over the summer!

Meanwhile when Gawn was resting on the bench, the big forwards of Tom McDonald or Sam Weidemann had to double with ruck duties.  No small surprise that a single big man in front of the sticks resulted in very little scoring, including not a solitary point in the final quarter.

The other selection failures were simply too many small players without the necessary experience at AFL level.  Could we really expect a team including ANB, Hore, Sparrow, Spargo, Wagner, Fritsch, and Hunt to compete with taller opponents?  And should we really have selected Sparrow (although he acquitted himself reasonably well) to replace a 300 game general of the backline.  There may have not been many more experienced available, but a tall would have helped.

Sadly, apart from these failures, too many players were simply underdone.  Jack Viney with 10 possessions. Petracca with only 2 touches to half-time.  Jones putting in an absolute “mare” with kick and marking failures.  Even Clayton Oliver with (for him) only 10 handballs.  What do they all have in common ... interrupted pre-seasons, with Jones and Viney only returning to running in the past 4-6 weeks ... it showed!

Christian Salem held the defence admirably, and with 32 touches off half-back he excelled at every turn.  The pity is that a HBF shouldn’t be the major possession getter in the side. Angus Brayshaw held together the mids because he, at least, could get his hands on the ball, while Harmes helped out, but they were on their own.  

They performed OK in the middle, and in fact Melbourne won the centre square clearances easily.  But around the ground without any assistance, Port simply cut the Demons to pieces.  Rockliff with 44 touches but only 4 clearances from the middle, showed where the Power were gaining the advantage.

Port also used their footy smarts.  Kicking the ball long, especially with the fluky wind, almost guaranteed chaos entries into their forward line.  In contrast Melbourne tried to chip and seek out the better option all the time, and it failed.  With the wind playing havoc, the ball often came out the back to find Port players who stayed down in the contest.  Not so Melbourne who continued to fly in packs to no effect.  

Will it get any better next week?  Not if we continue doing the same thing at selection table.  The addition of Steven May will help in a big way down back, but we need to give Max a cut-out during the game.  1 ruck is not enough in 2019.

We can’t do much about the lack of fitness in too many players, that’s just the nature of post season surgery, but if they are not ready and primed, then they shouldn’t be selected.  

Facing Geelong so early in the season will be a problem, because all their old stagers will be reasonably fit at this time of the year.  Come year end (as we saw in last year’s Elimination Final) they just drop by the wayside.  

What will happen? Will we see a half-baked team again next week?  If we do, all the pre-season aspirations will be cooked ...

Melbourne 4.3.27 6.5.41 9.7.61 9.7.61             

Port Adelaide 2.4.16 6.8.44 10.9.69 12.15.87        

Goals

Melbourne Melksham 2 Brayshaw Fritsch Jones T.McDonald Petracca Sparrow Weideman  

Port Adelaide Westhoff 5 Butters 2 Boak Duursma Ebert Gray Marshall

Best

Melbourne Salem, Harmes, Melksham, Hibberd, Brayshaw, Oliver

Port Adelaide Westhoff, Rockliff, Gray, Boak, Burton, Ebert

Injuries

Melbourne Lewis (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Sparrow

Port Adelaide Marshall (concussion)

Reports Nil

Umpires Rosebury, Stephens, Hosking

Official crowd 38,866 at the MCG

ReportRd012019.jpg

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